London Runs and Photo Routes – Sunrise and Sunset in London
Capturing a good sunrise or a sunset with a London backdrop can be challenging and by no means certain. In the spring and summertime, the sun rises early and it can be hard to get to a suitable location in time. The sun also alters its start and end position based on the time of year so it is difficult to judge exactly where it will rise and set. Finally, poor weather conditions and clouds are often a major factor in restricting opportunities. Winter offers some excellent opportunities as the sun rises late and sets early, but it can be cold in the early morning.
Sunrise/Sunset Conditions –
The best conditions are when there is some broken cloud in the sky, and there is an iconic London background. Ideally, you want to have a variety of cloud types at different levels, (i.e. some high cloud and lower clouds), as these will give you different effects as the sun begins to rise/set, and for the next 45 minutes. A clear blue sky will often give disappointing results as the sun will just be a bright circle, which the camera will find hard to cope with. However, a cloudy day with a clear horizon can sometimes provide some great sunrise/sunsets, but they are often over very quickly.
You also need to plan to arrive 45 minutes before the sun rises/sets and stay for a further 45 minutes as this is where you can get some interesting shots as the sky changes colour – however, this does not always happen. Lighting will be low, and the contrast very high which means that you need to hold the camera steady and have the sky the main subjects as silhouettes. Alternatively, turn around and get the effect of the sunrise/sunset on the subject.
I prefer the sunrise to the sunset as you have more opportunities to explore the area with the improving lighting condition. You can also get a better idea of where the sun will rise and be able to get to secure a good vantage point.
However finding a good location for a sunrise/sunset is not easy in a built-up city, so I have provides a few ideas of where you could try.
- East to west stretch along the Thames
- London Bridge – towards Tower Bridge and then along the river heading east. The sun position varies widely depending on the time of year. As a rough guide, it is on the north side of Tower Bridge in summer, the south side of Tower Bridge in Winter and roughly in the middle of Spring and Autumn
- Millennium Bridge
- Waterloo Bridge – (Summer)
- Golden Jubilee Bridge/Hungerford Bridge (Winter)
- Chelsea Embankment – Near Chelsea and Albert Bridge –north side of river
- Parliament Hill (Hampstead Heath – looking towards London)
- Primrose Hill – spring/ autumn best
- Hyde Park – Serpentine / Kensington Palace and the Round Pond – sunset
- St James Park – bridge over St James Park Lake
- Regents Park – Boating Lake area
- Richmond Park
- Battersea Park by the River
Sunset only –
- Westminster Bridge – sunset in winter
- London Eye (winter)
- Up in Tower Bridge (winter)
- Up the Monument (winter)
- Tower of London (winter)
These London Runs and Photo Routes are a great way of getting to know London, for seeing London’s best sights, and for photographing London.
By doing this London photo early in the morning, you can get to know London quickly and see it at its best – all for free.